MANILA - Where are the remains of Ferdinand Magellan, who died in the Battle of Mactan 500 years ago?
Rene Escalante, historian and chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, said Wednesday the Spaniards who survived the battle tried to recover Magellan's body through the intercession of Raha Humabon.
"Ayon sa kuwento, noong mamatay si Magellan, nakiusap 'yung mga survivors, through the intercession of Humabon, kung puwede mabawi nila 'yung labi ni Magellan para mabigyan ito ng disenteng libing. But it looks like, kung babasahin natin ang kuwento ni (Antonio) Pigafetta, mukhang hindi ito pinagbigyan," Escalante said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(According to stories, when Magellan died, the survivors asked, through the intercession of Humabon, to recover Magellan's remains in order to give it a proper burial. But it looks like it never happened because there were no accounts of it.)
"Ang duda ko dito, kung ito ay pinagbigyan, tiyak na magkakaroon ng lamay at bibigyan ito ng Christian burial sana. Walang binanggit si Pigafetta na naganap na ganito," Escalante said, referring to the accounts of the voyage written by Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta.
(I doubt that the body was returned to them, because if it happened, for sure there will be a wake and a Christian burial. Pigafetta did not mention anything about it.)
On Tuesday, the people of Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island in Cebu reenacted the historic April 27, 1521 clash which saw Lapulapu, one of the datus of Mactan, and his warriors defeat the forces of Magellan, the Portuguese explorer.
The Philippines this year is commemorating the 500th anniversary of the landing of the Spanish expedition in the country.
Escalante, a former chair of the Department of History of De La Salle University, said it is unlikely for Filipinos at that time to return Magellan's body because traditionally, bodies of slain enemies are kept as war trophies.
"At sa tradisyon din ng mga ninuno natin ano, 'yung mga napapatay nilang mga great leaders, they consider this as their trophy. So hindi mo ito isinosoli. Ito ay parang nagiging souvenir mo, para ipakita sa lahat na ako ay nakatalo ng ganitong tao at nagiging memorabilia nila ito," he explained.
(And based on the tradition of our ancestors, those great leaders that they kill, they are considered as trophies. They won't return the bodies, which they consider as souvenirs, as proof of their victory, and are considered as memorabilia.)
He said Magellan's body remained in the Philippines, but the exact location of where it was buried or kept is still unknown.
"Sa tingin ko, hindi isinauli ang bangkay ni Magellan sa mga Kastila. At kung tatanungin niyo ako kung saan ito nakalibing - ito ba ay nakalibing doon sa obelisk? Kahit po ako ay may doktorado sa kasaysayan, ang sagot ko po diyan ay hindi ko po alam," said Escalante, whose Ph.D in History was conferred by the University of the Philippines in 2001.
(In my opinion, it was not returned to the Spaniards, and if you ask me where it is buried - is it buried in the obelisk? Even if I have a doctorate in History, I will tell you that I do not know.)